Monday, December 25, 2006

Seasons Greetings from the Warlock

Merry Merry, cats and kittens.

For what it's worth, there hasn't been a lot of gaming going on since the conclusion of the Monday night Eberron Game.

That said, a new record of four brave superheroes has emerged, circa 1985. The alien John Doe, the winged-warrior Avoral, the robotic Rambo II, and the gun-nut CheapShot have taken it upon themselves to investigate a mysterious break-in at the newly unionized American subsidiary of the Polish company TMP Cybernetics.

Their path leads them from their headquarters near Langley, to the midnight streets of Krakow, to the depths of Siberia, in search of the (now-crippled) Rage Lord, the mysterious Iron Skull, and a man in green who may prove to be their greatest adversary yet....

In the meanwhile, have yourselves a good holiday. Whether you're religious or not, the holiday season has at least one message that we can all get on board for--peace on Earth and goodwill towards all men. Happy Holidays, all!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Musings of the Warlock--How Complete Arcane Changed Third Edition

I was in the tub a few days ago--I, like most people, do a lot of good thinking in the bathroom--and came upon a bit of a revelation.

I've been gaming for just about 15 years now. While I started in the midst of Dungeons and Dragons' second edition, I was quite familiar with the first edition rules, as well as that of Palladium's various systems.

The very foundation of the Dungeons and Dragons concept of magic revolves around a bastardized version of the magic system used by author Jack Vance, in his Dying Earth series. Within gaming circles, this knowledge is not uncommon. Vance was one of the first popular fantasy writers to come up with the idea of magic as a 'fire and forget' system. Your first level wizard would prepare/memorize/ready his magic missile, but when that spell was cast, it was gone for at least 8 hours.

This concept of 'fire and forget' magic translated easily into D&D, splitting evenly along the lines of divine and arcane magics. It was simple for a player to tell how many spells he had left, what level of spells were available, and what he could do at any given time. That said, many gamers felt frustrated with their inability to replicate the iconic spellcasters of fantasy and folklore.

And, seriously...who can blame them? Tolkien didn't exactly sit around worrying how many 8th level spells Gandalf can pump out in a day, or whether Saruman memorized that Telekinesis spell with a metamagic effect on it. Robert E. Howard didn't spend time figuring out whether Thulsa-Doom should use Polymorph Self or Shapechange. Tennyson and Malory didn't exactly worry so much about whether Merlin had cantrips or not.

This debate went on into third edition and its 'successor', 3.5e. While revolutionary, particularly in terms of the System Reference Document and the Open Gaming license, the Vancian-based magic system continued in terms of both wizard and sorcerer, both druid and cleric, and even the lowly bard. Always, we seemed pinned into 'fire and forget'.

This is not to say that other systems have not gone in other directions. Countless systems have. Even D&D has, to lesser degrees, through its psionics system, even in second edition. The problem there, though, is the fact that psionics is a marginalized segment, even within the more open scope of third edition. Within second, the system was stigmatized for balance issues, making playability and popularity minimal.

However, after the advent of 3.5e, Complete Arcane was released. And with CArc came a novel concept--the Warlock. For the first time in the history of Dungeons and Dragons, players were given a spellcaster who was not limited by spell slots or memorization. Instead, it was merely a matter of knowing or not knowing an invocation.

The uproar, at least on the Wizards of the Coast message boards, was immense. Many players simply did not comprehend how to play the class. Where a wizard or sorcerer would simply run out of spells, the warlock could run all day, non-stop, yet still remain balanced with its Vancian counterparts.

From there, the warlock's popularity led to further innovation within the D&D magic system. Tome of Magic, featuring the TrueNamer and the Binder, both featured functional magic systems that were comparable to those of the wizard and sorcerer, yet provided unique alternatives. The binder had access to any of its abilities, once per five rounds. The truenamer could use its highest abilities over and over again, provided he could make his ever-escalating true-name check.

Magic of Incarnum pushed the envelope farther, impinging on the realms of New Age mysticism and Far Eastern metaphysics through chakra binds and soul melds. Again, these did not require spell slots or memorization--just pick what you like. The higher you get in level, the more earth-shaking things you can do.

So different, so innovative were these concepts within D&D that they have spread out of the realm of magic and into the realm of melee combat, through Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. Again, rather than readying maneuvers based on a Vancian system of x per day, we find abilities that can be refreshed in mid-combat, and are automatically regained following a battle.

Now, what does this mean for the discerning player? Well, by and large, it means more fun. Players enjoy seeing their characters at their best. When we're low on hit points, low on spells, low on resources, it becomes difficult to succeed at any major task. The priority for the player and for the character becomes resting, not adventuring. We, as players, play the game to fictitiously adventure, not to fictiously rest. These new systems accentuate this style of play, moving on the action faster and more furiously, pleasing both players and DMs.

What does this mean for the industry? This, above all else, shows the gilded age of D&D that has been upon us. For 25 years, authors have felt constrained to comply with the Vancian system, simply for verisimilitude. For the first time, we have authors, on a large scale, stretching their wings within the D&D engine. New systems, new concepts, mean more innovation across the board.

Needless to say, this sort of change is hard to fathom, coming from only one base class in a splatbook. But, the Warlock, for the first time, provided a divergent point of view--showing us that D&D can still be D&D without spell slots...and sometimes can even be more fun for it. The Warlock and its ilk will never replace with typical Vancian wizards and sorcerers of D&D--there's too much heritage there to fully overcome that massive mountain--but, the point remains that D&D has changed...particularly, changed for the better.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Finale)

This page is the final entry in Harrigan's journal, and appears to be a message to his comrades about his final decision regarding the Professor, Dhalia, and his own fate. To this day, the fate of Harrigan Grimgem is unknown, but it is presumed that his body still lies in stasis within the depths of DreadHold.

To Khin, Lillis, Jacquin, Johnathan, and Sparkles--

This be the end o' the road for me, ladies and gents. It's been quite the trip, and it's been happy, for the most part, but I canna simply continue my galavant 'round the world and shirk the weight o' the world that's been sittin' on all our shoulders.

I'd save ye from this, so I do now what needs ta be done.

We live in world o' great magic--a place where the impossible happens each day, and any cutter worth the eyes in their head doesn't even blink. Ye know how easily life and death are moved across, what with spells of resurrection and raised life. Trust me, ye don't live in Karrnath all 'o yer life without pickin' up something about bringin' back that what was once dead.

That said, there be too many ways to get back at the old proffy's brain. Too many ways to bring him back or raise him as some undead and make him spill his secrets.

Ye also know, then, the stares I be gettin' whene'er we're in town. The eyes on me staff--the one we took from Xen'drik. Even if not for killin' Dhalia, the Inspired'll soon be after me...and ye with me.

And so, this be why I'm leavin' ye. Here, in the depths of DreadHold's Stone Ward, I'll lie at one with the rock and stone till all this be past. I've left specific instructions with the High Warden to not raise me for 500 years, or unless four of the five of ye decide that ye be needin' me services again.

I'll be takin' only the Destiny Arms and the proffy's body in me bag o' holding. There, they'll be trapped in the stone with me, in the most secure prison in all o' Eberron. If the Inspired get at it there, it'll have meant that the whole damned world belongs to them already.

Everythin' else I have goes straight to ye. Consider it my worldly thanks for bein' good friends, good travelin' companions and...well, damn, ye already know all this. No point in me sayin' more.

If'n ye want more help against the Inspired, I know a man. Drop me name in Rekkenmark and look for Alain Fannin, sometimes called "the man in black." He'll help ye, if the bastard knows what's good for 'im.

Johnny--What ye preach is true and holy. Spread yer word to whomever'll listen, and ye'll shake the land itself in time. I hope ye find yer way home again someday.

Jackie--yer a good man, regardless o' what they say. There's more to nobility than a title, though, and methinks ye learned that sometime along the way. Take care o' the young'ens for me.

Khin--The lands o' Karrnath have been good to us both. I hope yer collection'll be lookin' fine someday. Ye've been true to yer land and yer bones. I salute ye, soldier.

Lil--The world be a rough, harsh place at times, but there be great good within it. Ye stand as testament to that goodness, and someday it might come out in all us. Keep an eye to the gnome. He'll be needin yer help some days, methinks.

Sparkles--Aye, ye addle-coved berk. Yer home awaits, and with it, the sights of yer family. My hope is that ye find them and live out yer days in peace yet. Dinna overdo it on the Temples, wee one!

Aye, well that be quite long enough for any berk to be rattlin' his brain box. Take care o' yerselves, hearties. May the ground e'er rise to meet yer feet.

--Harrigan "The Horrible" Grimgem, 2nd Rank Bone Sergeant, Prospector, Miner, War-Wizard, Martyr.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 7)

Arriving in the Shadow Marches, Harrigan and his accomplices set out to find the final necessary dragonshards to power the professor's plane-traveling device. Harrigan expresses his doubts as the group travels through the Crawling Swamp, and begins to face a difficult decision.

Aye, so I finally had a chat with Jackie, Johnny, and the gnome. I've decided what action I'm goin' ta take, and all three are on board so far. We're plannin' on talkin' to Lil and Khin sometime soon, to see if they'll join us. I couldn't tell ye what they're goin' to say, but that's life.

We finally arrived in the Shadow Marches, where we did some sellin'. It's amazin' what you pick up as ye travel along like this. There's all kinds 'a stuff that we've collected. Needless to say, though, to the right buyer, we have what they want. That means jink in me pockets and ale in me tankard.

While there, I picked up a prospectin' license from the damned Thrashk half-orcs and talked to some of the Kundarak house about dealin' with our future problem. It shouldn't be a difficulty.

Lil celebrated her 17th birthday, while we were there. Aye...poor girl. She's out here in the middle o' nowhere with strangers, enterin' somethin' that she doesn't even know the half of. We'll see how this all goes.

I'll be honest with ye. I spent most o' my time broodin' and on a boat. Aye, another boat. I hate boats. A fella hired us to find some addle-coves who had given him the slip earlier on in the month. They headed up river with their pay for a job they never finished. Our job--find the buggers, and bring 'em back dead or alive.

Things were relatively quiet on the way. We fought a swarm o' hellwasps, which went down in flames from the Magma Staff and torchfire from the others. We also ran into some claimjumpers, but we dealt with them right quick.

Long story short--the pair (a burn-scarred orc and a midget human) were killed by some undead thing in the swamp. We killed it off right quick and started lootin'. The bodies around there had some fine loot, as well as the Eberron shards we've been lookin' for.

We headed back and will soon be headed for Adar. I dinna plan on makin' this an extended stay.

I have to apologize to ye, if ye be readin' this. To say the least, I've been a touch distracted by things. Evil times have a tendency of bringin' things out in one that ye wouldn't normally want to come out. At the same time, it makes good men do things that they normally wouldn'a do. Aye, I wish I knew what I could do in this situation that that'd be best, but right now, methinks I've chosen the best path I can.

Now, to deal with the consequences.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 6)

After catching a wind galley from the port city of Stormreach, Harrigan and his allies set out for the Shadow Marches on the continent of Khorvaire. Along the way, they encounter two wonderous creatures that have them most distinctly on the menu...

Aye, I'm not much o' one for boats, meself, but any boat's better than a damned airship. I was still sick, but nowhere near's as bad as Jackie, Johnny, and the gnome. Those three were nothin' short of green as rock-mold.

Problem with that was the fact that we were about ta run inta some damned fine turbulence. Some giant turtle-thing, underneath the ship, started flippin' it on it's edge, sendin' almost everyting (yours truly, included) overboard!

Khin, Lil, and I managed to fight it off somehow, but not before it took one hell of a chunk outta me. Lil tried out one of her new spells, and Khin charged after it with both weapons a'swingin', and my new spell--Giant's Wrath--helped send the damned thing back to the bottom of the sea.

Only problem was that the ship itself was damaged when the thing tried to claw its way up onto the deck. The ship wasn't leakin' too heavily, but it sure as hell wasn't goin' anywhere. It was up to us to head to a nearby island and gather some wood for repairs. I headed below deck to grab me an axe and we headed ashore.

It wasn't long after we made landfall that Khin noticed a clutch of eggs in the sand. There weren't any blood there, so we figured that the thing we faught earlier hadn't been here. I whipped out my prospectin' tools and we started diggin' away.

We didn't find much in the way of loot down there, but we did find some things o' value. As in 13 of 'em. Dragon turtle eggs. Turns out, according to Khin anyway, that the eggs were wanted heavily by the Sharn Aquarium, so we packed 'em up in his bag of holding. I kept two out for omelettes, but it turns out that the damned things were fertilized. Fer laughin', I smacked Lil with one of the undeveloped buggers... She wasn't too happy about that one.

From there, we started about cuttin' down some trees. Only thing was that Lil--who I swear, has a shorter attention span than the gnome--noticed the volcano at the center of the island.

Now, if ye be readin' this journal, ye can probably imagine my thoughts on volcanoes at this point. Lava, heat...not me first choice of interest. But, the two damned fools played on me dwarven weakness for gems, and we headed in.

If it weren't for some luck at that point, we'd a been nothin' but bird food. Turns out that the volcano--extinct, though it was--was bein' used by a roc. Yeah, the fuckin' roc.

Luckily, we were able to get jump on the damned thing. I cast some spells on meself, as well as on Khin, which gave us the upper hand. Basically, I kept him on the ground with Mountain Stance, so he could lay into it with sword and mace. Between Khin and Lil's hacking, and my spells, we finished it off in no time.

We managed to pull out some nice loot from the roc's nest, then made it back to the ship with the wood needed for the repairs. All in all, not a bad day's work, but I'm eager to get to the Shadow Marches already. I have some sellin' to do...

Friday, November 03, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 5)

As Harrigan and his companions return from the tomb of Sharataz, the undead fire giant sorcerer, they come upon a strange sight--a massive ivory tower standing in the midst of the jungle. The lone inhabitant of this tower may well change their lives forever...

Aye, so we finally got ourselves out of the damned cavern of Sharataz--not the least bit fast enough for my taste. Ye know, I'm about as hands-on as ye get. I get in, get me hands dirty and get after whatever there be to get afterin'. However, this was one time where I'd have rather'a been back in Fairhaaven, readin' up on giants, rather than findin' them.

My legs were still sore from the lava last time, and I'll freely admit, I's a bit testy. But, when Jackie came back from scoutin' the path ahead, I didn't have so much patience with the fop.

He came out o' the clearin' up ahead sayin' something about a spiralin' white tower in the middle of the jungle. Well, the damned fool went back and checked, then started claimin' somethin' about warforged guarding it. Warforged. In the middle of the damned jungle. Even the damned gnome didn't believe him after that.

But, go figure--the fop was actually tellin' the truth for once. Given that, I didn't even want ta mess with the situation. I used me new staff and summoned up an earth elemental, then sent him after the damned 'forged.

I'll save ye the details o' the combat and get to the point--no force on or under earth can stand against pure elemental earth in bodily form. The elemental lit'rally crushed the damned creatures beneath its fists with no effort whatsoever. Yeah, yeah....the gnome and the others contributed with those damned drow boomerangs, and I even got to try out me new spell--a conjured, razor-sharp stalagmite--but the elemental did the heavy lifting.

As soon as we arrived outside and finished off the warforged, all of us could hear a weird combo o' sounds--something like a mechanical whirring, with murmuring underneath it. Immediately, Lil, Jackie and Khin started climbin' on into the tower, but I held back to look around with the gnome and Johnny.

I can't say what they saw inside, at least a' the beginnin'. But, outside, there was a huge crack in the earth. I could practically feel the ground screamin' beneath me. The gnome dropped one of his crazy devices in and lights flared down in the gorge--the bottom was covered in warforged components on an assembly line. Some damned fool was startin' to build new 'forged.

I couldn't stand fer that. I can't stand the House Cannith bastards, but the idea of makin' new warforged just smacks me the wrong way. I closed off the crevasse, crushing all of the components fer good.

It was that point that Lil dropped me a Message. Somethin' about a giant imprisoned in in some damned device inside. Grabbin' up Johnny and the gnome, I hurried on in.

The tower led up quite a piece, with only one door, which led back down into the depths of an unlit factory floor. We clambered down to see a hideous sight--a giant trapped in suspended animation, behind some crazy Cannith contraption.

I knew who it was immediately. I'd read about him back in Fairhaaven, then again in Sharataz's tomb. This giant was one that fought against the Quori, over 13,000 years prior, using one of the four Destiny Arms. Particularly, he used a glaive that channeled elemental earth and negative energy, severing the ability to for the Quori to possess their foes. Immediately, I had 'em start lookin' for a way to get the feller out.

That was my mistake. Jack-o and the gnome found a console of buttons, and immediately started pissin' around with 'em. With the lights blinkin' around us, and the factory half-comin' to life, I couldn't take it anymore. I shattered the damned console, and the entire factory went black.

Luckily, dwarven blood be hardier than that of piss-poor humans. The giant was freed, and we had ourselves a nice little conversation. It took a while to get him up to speed, but eventually he caught on.

If all that wasn't enough, apparently the Quori were usin' this damned facility for creatin' old-style warforged to continue their siege on Adar. Somehow, I didn't feel so bad anymore for destroyin' the whole place. The Quori had, as well, their own damned gateway outside, according to the giant.

Well, I figured that we damned well had better put a stop to that, as well. A casting of Stone-Shape later, and what once looked like a runic circle now looks like nothin' more than ground. Good riddance to the damned bastards.

Luckily, we also found the giant's glaive. Some damned fool, not knowin' what he had, dropped it in the well outside. Easily gotten, we gave that one back.

It was there that the giant and meself got into a bit of a tiff. As I said, me temper was not of the best that day. He wanted to take me staff, claimin' that the Quori'd after us to get it back--apparently, the giants used the four Destiny Arms to banish them in the first place and, if they were re-united, they could undo the magics. I told him, plain and simple, that the staff was mine, and it'd make more sense anyway to keep the Arms separated.

Right in the midst of the argument, we got a rude awakening. Some fella, with an iron dog-like thing and a chick, came up claimin' that the tower was his. Now, I'm no archmage, but I can see the writin' on the stone wall. If this fella thinks that the tower is his, and that he dows the work here....even if he's from Cannith, then he's also allied with the Quori and knew that the giant was prisoner. I didn't put up with that--I lit an Earthbolt into he and his buddies and was done with them.

I pried the info I wanted straight out of his brain. He was possessed by a Quori--a servant of our old friend Dhalia.

At any rate, I dinna think that he was too pleased by that logic, but he chose not to pry the staff from me dwarven fingers, so I think he's not too perturbed. He claimed to be headin' off to find a friend of his, to see if they were still alive and if they had their own Arm with them.

Right now, we're on our way via wind galley towards the Shadow Marches. They're the last place we need to head in order to get the Professor's shards.

Right now, I'm not sure what the hell I'm goin' to do. If we give the prof the shards, he could well mess up the whole damned Multiverse, pullin' planes out of alignment and movin' 'em around. Even if the Quori don't get a hold of it, all it takes is one mistake to bring down everything the SoulForger's e'er put down here.

I think I need to talk to Johnny. He seems to have a good hand on this.

One thing I do know is that Dhalia'll be gettin' what's comin' to her. If I have to cross the whole damned continent again, I'll see that she gets hers.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 4)

Having arrived in the city of Stormreach, Harrigan and his companions head deep into the jungles of Xen'drik in search of Khyber dragonshards. Their search leads them to the ruins of a giantish citadel, where Harrigan has a brush with death...

Aye, I knew it wasn't goin' to be a good day. It'd been one o' those weeks.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'd enjoyed my time in Stormreach. The gnome, Johnny and I had lived it up like nobody's business. Even got meself a new tattoo--a series o' Giantish runes that run across me chest. It'd been a great week. However, once we had to get down to business, life was the sort that'd curl yer beard.

We started out headin' towards an outpost in the midst o' the jungle called Last Chance--great place to call it, thinks me--when we were jumped by more of the damned dinos that we fought earlier. Only problems were that these ones were big--real big. We're talkin' big enough to crack your mine's walls big. That, and the fact that I was busy tryin' to teach the damned gnome some more o' the Common tongue. That's rough enough by itself, but havin' to leap into battle in the midst of it....ugh.

We leapt into the midst o' things, with Jackie already in after 'em and Lil singin' to her heart's content. Damned fool girl. She'll get us all killed if she keeps enterin' combat with a song, rather than a sharp blade or a good spell. I pulled off a Tremor spell which knocked the dinos on their asses, but all she did was sing.

Now, honestly. Ye tell me, what do ye do with someone like that? She sings. Sings! We're fightin' for our lives and what does she do? Sings. Damned addlecoved berks. The gnome was nearly bitten in half, Khin was fallin' all over himself with panic, and Johnny was overheatin' in his armor, and she's singin'. Go figure.

The little shifter did manage to pump off a spell herself--one that managed to actually do some mage to the damned things. She'll be worth her luster someday, no doubt--it's just that for now, she's a pain in the ass.

At any rate, we managed to make it to Last Chance somewhat intact, and I started the next day with a fine Dwarven Breakfast. There's nothin' on or under good earth like startin' out knowin' that five animals had to die to feed ye in the morning.

However, good breakfast or now, I knew the day wasn't goin' well. For one, we started out trackin' the shards by havin' the gnome read the map. Yeah, the gnome.

Yes, the gnome can't read. Aye, we must be as barmy as a power near the Spire. We somehow arrived at some old ruins of a statue sayin' "Beware of Sharataz, fire giant sorcerer. Continue and face my wrath."

Aye, I know more than my share about giants. I know how powerful they were, back in the day when they fought the Demons, the Quori and the damned drow without half the time needed for a good ale. I also know that a fair piece of their power--their items and the like--can be found in their ruins. That said, roamin' around fire giant tombs isn't my idea of a day of work. However, that's where the shards were, so we headed towards the entrance.

We also had one minor problem--the aforementioned damned drow. A party of four of 'em were headin' down the mountain straight for us. That's when Jackie came up with a bright idea. The mountain was barely a pile o' loose rock, so he asked me about settin' up another Tremor right near 'em. So, I made with the earthshakin' and ran like a scared cave boar.

The ensuin' avalance buried the drow, gettin' 'em out of our hair once and for all. Three of 'em were dead when we arrived, and the last was barely clingin' to life. I fixed that with my new spell--somethin' I picked up in Adar called Crystalline Memories.

Basic premise is this--I reach into someone's mind and basically start turnin' their brain to crystal. If I manage to pull it off, I can pull it out o' their skull and into my hand, then use it to see what they've been thinkin'. Needless to say, it's a nasty little spell.

Basically, we got a bit of info from him about where the shards were--in the midst of a field right past ol' Sharataz' tomb. We headed into the cave and went from there.

Only problem was--by the Hells, I say that a lot in this thing--we weren't alone. Damned little spidery things, like bugs or such, were infestin' the place. I wanted to hang onto my spells for a tick, knowing the Sharataz's tomb probably wasn't unguarded, so I settled on a Fist o' Stone and drew that crystal sword that I picked up in Aundair.

Now, I can hold my own in a fight--there are damned louts in Karrnath that'll tell ye the same--but that gnome? That's a fair fellhammer right there. He ripped the little buggers up like flint under a mithril hammer.

It was the next bit that really fired me beard...lit'rally. In order to get to Sharataz's tomb, we had to cross the ruins of this old bridge across a volcanic outlet. I've crossed so many bridges in my life like that, that you'd figure it'd just be walkin'.

No. No such luck.

I fell in. The lava. I fell in the damned lava. I don't know why or how--I guess I just slipped--but I fell in the damned lava and damned near sank.

I don't know who pulled me out--I've never felt pain like that in me life, so I wasn't focusin' on who's hand I grabbed up. All I could do was howl.

Johnny jumped up and chanted some words. I couldn't even make 'em out, but once he did, his hand started radiatin' somethin' powerful and all the pain was suddenly gone. Th' burnt flesh, the charring....all gone. He cured me.

I couldn't even breathe by that point. I had no idea of what to do or say. He just nodded at me and we moved on.

After a little bit of argument, we decided upon gettin' the shards first, before seein' what old Sharataz had left behind for us. We headed around the back, towards the shard-field. Khin and Johnny started out trying to lasso the things, with only a little bit of luck. Frustrated already, I wasn't about to wait around for them to mess around with it. A few castings of Mage Hand did the trick, and we had an armload of Khyber shards to show for it.

From there, we headed on in. Sharataz's tomb was strangely deserted, which made me all the more nervous. Right in the middle, though, there was something crazy going on. A massive staff, made of hardened black and red lava, sat up on a pedastal right in front of a massive gravesite.

Jackie checked the thing for traps, but even he wasn't confident in his work. He pulled out a retractable pole, ready to knock the staff down, but I had a better idea and less patience than to put up with his crap. I pulled out an Earthen Grasp and had it toss me the staff. Immediately, two wacky things happened: the ground around the tomb started rumblin', and the staff got smaller in my hands--small enough for me to wield and use.

Well, wouldn't ya know it, ol' Sharataz wasn't quite dead yet. Seemed to have some fight in him yet, because he rose on out of the grave and went on the assault.

I'll spare ye the details, but suffice to say that puttin' down ol' Sharataz wasn't pretty. Jackie, Khin, and the gnome charged on in, takin' more than their share of pain. Johnny hung back and let loose with a Searing Light spell. Again, the damned bard sung. We were lucky to survive that last Earthbolt killed the damned thing. I can thank the fine fellas of House Kundarak for that one--it was the Empowering Rod I bought from them that let me take out Sharataz.

To say the least, I kept the staff. There was a fair amount of loot to go around, within Sharataz's grave, which was fine for the rest. Right now, I'm still tryin' to figure out all the things that it can do. Thusfar, it can light itself on fire, can cast Fireball, Wall of Fire, can change rock to mud, and can summon elementals. Not too bad--not typically my cup of tea, but it's been all right so far.

Supposedly--at least accordin' to the inscriptions on that pedastal--there are three other weapons that the giants had out at the same time. I, for one, don't care too much. We've already got a job to take care of, and I'd rather focus on the meanwhile, though, I'm goin' to just get myself a drink. It's been far too long of a journey as it is.

Monday, October 23, 2006

From Harrigan Grimgem's Scrollcase...

While I was perusing through Harrigan "The Horrible" Grimgem's journal, I came across a few folded sheets tucked into the binding. Lo, and behold! They were spells of Harrigan's own devising, which this world had ne'er seen before. I was quick to scribe copies of them, myself, and add them to my apprentices' spellbook.

I publish their details here, so that other spellcasters may benefit from Harrigan's own brand of....ingenuity? That's definitely not the right word for this maniac, but a fine spellcaster he appears to be. Now, it's time for me to finish that staff...

Create Chasm
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 Standard Action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target: One 10 ft. diameter pit.
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None or Reflex negates (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

As you suddenly separate your clasped hands and chant the final words to the incantation, a deep, jagged chasm appears beneath your chosen foe. Their screams echo deeply…at least until they hit the bottom with a satisfying squish.

At the conclusion of this spell, you create a deep chasm in the earth. This chasm is completely permanent and real in every way. The chasm is a rough circle, 10 feet in diameter, with a depth equal to 10 ft. per caster level (max 150 ft at 15th level). If any space affected by this spell is occupied by a creature that can fit down the chasm (Large or smaller), that creature must make a Reflex save or fall into the chasm. Falling creatures take damage as normal for falling.
You may only cast this spell when on the earth itself, or on the ground floor of a building. If cast on a surface above the earth or on a floor above the ground level, this spell fails to function.

Greater Shatter
Level: Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./2 levels)
Area or Target: 20-ft.-radius spread; or one solid object or one creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates (object); Will negates (object) or Fortitude half; see text
Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

As you grasp the stone within your hand, an inaudible noise erupts from your throat. This sound ripples across your target, shattering it into thousands of tiny pieces.

Greater Shatter creates a loud, ringing noise that breaks objects; sunders a single solid object; or damages a crystalline, metallic, or stone creature.
Used as an area attack, greater shatter destroys nonmagical objects of stone, ceramics, metal, or glass. All such objects within a 20-foot radius of the point of origin are smashed into dozens of pieces by the spell. Objects weighing more than 5 pounds per your level are not affected, but all other objects of the appropriate composition are shattered.
Alternatively, you can target greater shatter against a single solid object, regardless of composition, weighing up to 10 pounds per caster level. This can be used to destroy magical items made of metal, ceramic, stone, or glass. If the item fails a Will saving throw, it takes 1d6 points of damage per level of the caster (maximum 10d6).
Targeted against a crystalline, metallic, or stone creature (of any weight), greater shatter deals 1d6 points of sonic damage per caster level (maximum 10d6), with a Fortitude save for half damage.
Arcane Material Component: A shard of rock, chipped away with a hammer.

Conjure Lava Rift
Conjuration [Earth] [Fire]
Level: Sor/Wiz 5
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area or Target: 10 ft. diameter miniature volcano
Duration: 1 round / 3 levels
Saving Throw: Reflex (half) or none. See text.
Spell Resistance: none

As you gesture, the ground itself heaves forth in a shower of molten rock shards, spraying your foes with liquid hot magma.

You create a 10 foot diameter cracked rift in the earth which sprays forth hot lava. This area affected by this spell is treated as rough terrain and costs two squares of movement for each square moved. Any creature within the area of the rift or in an adjoining square must make a Reflex save or take 1d6 damage/caster level (maximum 10d6, Reflex half).
If a creature takes damage from the magma, they take half of that damage again on the following round as the magma continues to burn. After the second round of damage, no further damage is accrued.
When the duration of this spell expires, the ground is returned to its normal shape, with no evidence that the lava rift was brought into existence. This spell may only be cast on ground level—whether in a building or on the ground itself—or while underground.

Volcanic Gout
Evocation [Earth] [Fire]
Level: Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 60 ft.
Area or Target: 60 ft. cone.
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Reflex (half)
Spell Resistance: Yes

With only a few words, you spray forth a superheated blast of stone and lava from your mouth.

You spray a cone full of rock and superheated lava from your mouth. This gout deals 4d6 bludgeoning damage and 8d6 fire damage.
If you cast this spell a second time before the end of your next turn, the damage is increased to 5d6 bludgeoning damage and 10d6 fire damage.

If you learn this spell as a sorcerer, you gain fire resistance 3. This fire resistance stacks with all other fire resistance, whether from a natural ability, a spell, or a magical item.

(This material is designed for use with the Dungeons and Dragons v. 3.5 roleplaying game and complies with the System Reference Document. This material is meant for personal use only, and may be republished only for personal use and not for profit.)

Monday, October 09, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 3)

After their initial success in finding the Professor, Harrigan and his companions make their way towards Adar via airship, but not without some rather fortunate delays....

Aye, so we finally set out on the thrice-damned airship towards Adar. I hate airships. Can't stand the bloody things. Make me sicker than damned elven wine. I was bent over the side of the ship, pullin' from me flask just to stay alive.

That's when Jackie pointed out somethin' a bit alarmin'. Giant rocks, falling from the sky, straight towards the ship. I whipped out a two spells of Shatter and broke up some, sending shards of rock across the deck. However, I couldn't stop the other three, and one struck the ship. We started makin' for the life-rings, and I grabbed a rope and leapt off, hanging on--just in case.

Turns out that the ship only took cosmetic damage, and we were able to sit down without much trouble. Thing was that the shattered shards on the ship were dragonshards. Honest to damned gods Siberys dragonshards! We got hit right in the middle of a damned storm of 'em!!

We set down right on top of where we thought one landed, and I sight beheld me that I'd never seen before. A dragonshard--a single, bloody dragonshard--the size of a damned wheelbarrow. One. Just one. I damned near pissed myself. As Khin said, "It just falls into your lap...literally!"

Immediately, we set about decidin' what to do. We had to do a bit of re-negotiatin' with the Prof, mainly because of the wealth of this thing. We figured out an arrangement, and started to diggin'. Jackie, Sparkles and I broke out the prospectin' tools, while Lil gave us some moral support. Lazy shifter. Khin and Johnny headed out, though....apparently, Khin saw another shard drop not too far away.

After doin' some figurin', we managed on a way to move the shard itself. Turns out that the little gnome, ADHD and all, could push it, if we managed to get it up on some rollers. Some trees from the local copse fit the bill, and Lil got around to choppin' 'em up.

Only one problem emerged. Well, actually three of 'em. Dinos. Big nasty lizards with bigger nasty teeth. Immediately, we leapt into action. I cut in with an Earthbolt, and Jackie whipped out his sword and dagger. Lil started casting some helpful spells and Johnny drew his mace, ready to charge on out.

I tell ye what--say what ye want about the damned gnome, but the bastard can fight. He took out one of those lizards by himself--no help whatsoever. Another one, which I caught with a second Earthbolt, Johnny finished off with a half mace-slam, half body-tackle.

The problem, though, was not so much the lizards, but rather what they meant. Apparently, the dinos were the mounts of some halflings in the area. Damned cannibal halflings. I hate the buggers. The Prof and his bodyguard, the Kalashtar, held them off from wreckin' the ship, but we knew we needed to get out of there. I started pokin' the gnome till he got nice and pissed off, then Enlarged him, so he could push the rock. Just as we figured, he had no problem rollin' it right into the ship's cargo hold.

We also managed to pull some smaller shards from the second shard-fall, including one the size of a dinner-plate. I pulled out my scrapin' pan and grabbed up some dragonshard dust, as well.

With that, we needed to figure on where to go next. Sharn was quite a ways away, and we didn't want to head to Adar with such a risky thing as this giant shard. So, we decided to head a bit the Mror Holds and House Kundarak.

Now, I'd never been to Mror and the Ironroot Mountains. However, I knew it as my home, because all good dwarves know it as home. We docked, and immediately set out about gettin' an appointment.

The secretary at the Kundarak house was quite the eyeful, and she was more than helpful in settin' up a meetin'. I wouldn't mind meetin' up with her again, if ya know what I mean!
We were set up for 1pm the next day, with a Kundarak official.

Well, in the meanwhile, we grabbed some grub and drink and brought it back to party with the shard. Turns out that Jackie used to be quite the drinker--go figure. It's not surprising that he's as nuts as he is. A man goin' without drink for as long as he had before last night would be that nuts!

Well, once the Kundarak fella arrived the next day, his jaw dropped further'n mine did when I first laid eyes on it. He immediately went to go grab his superior, who had eyes wider'n a deep cave owl.

He tried to offer us an awful deal for the shard--35% of the wealth. We tried bargainin' with him, but he wouldn't have it. So, instead, I offered him somethin' better: the dinner-plate sized shard. He took that, and we split the big one's worth 7 ways---naturally, the Prof got his equal share.

We spent about a week or so in Mror, livin' the high life and waitin' for our profits to roll in. And that they did. We managed a total of 250,000 gil, selling between universities, The Twelve, and some other private buyers. Split 7 ways, that was over 35k a piece! And the fame....oh, the fame. Definitely, our names were probably on someone's list by now....

We made quite a few purchases around Mror before we left. Lil grabbed up a new enchanted lute, Jackie had his rapier enchanted, and the gnome got a pair of boots. I, meself, ended up with some new enchantments on me bracers, as well as a few other trinkets. I even had an ever-wand of Kelgore's Fire Bolt created, so I'd never run out.

With our last night in Mror, we lived it up. I's surprised that none o' the pipsqueaks were hungover the next day, as we traveled over the ocean towards Sarlona.

Well, we arrived pretty easily and only had one major problem as we arrived at the Prof's "sanctuary". Apparently, some Giant-age warforged were still bein' used by the Inspired, to try to hunt down ol' Proffy's friends. Needless to say, this was a bit weird, since the giants were on Xen'drik, not on Sarlona. Go figure.

When we arrived, we already had our task laid out before us. Head to Xen'drik and figure out what the hell was goin' on with the damned ancient warforged. And, as always, do our prospectin' thing. Turns out that the prof needs all three types of shards--Siberys, Eberron, and Khyber--to complete his device.

Y'know, as I mentioned to Johnny, I'm startin' to worry about this here device that Proffy is buildin'. He's talkin' now about transportation by moving places closer to the world and such...that has me just a touch worried. I can't imagine what it'd be like to have the Nine Hells right next door to me. Just seems like some o' that fire and brimstone that Johnny talks about might have some merit to it sometimes--especially if this thing falls into the wrong hands.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 2.5)

This ballad was found with Harrigan's possessions by my friend in Khorvaire. I'm unsure what to make of it thusfar. To say the least, it speaks volumes on the dwarven lifestyle....

I like axes, sharp and ready.
I like wenches...with frosty brews.
I like drinkin' with lusty ladies.
I like eatin' my stew with ye...

I like diggin' in the granite.
I like breakin'...orcish skulls.
I bleed lava and shite out emeralds,
I drink hard ales in just one pull.

'Cause I'm all....all dwarven!

I mine mithril, and adamantine.
I eat roast pork, potatoes too.
I crush goblins, with my hammer.
I eat Illithid, deep fried in brew.

'Cause I'm all....all dwarven!

I like axes, ale and wenches...
I break elf-skulls and screw my whores.
I eat rubies with my beef stew,
but I come home and fight with you!

'Cause I'm all....all dwarven!
'Cause I'm all....all dwarven!
(Repeat ad nauseum)

(Sung to the tune of Free Fallin' by Tom Petty. All copyrighted material is the property of their owners and is used only as parody here.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Chronicles of Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 2)

The dwarf's tale takes a strange turn, as he and his friends board a lightning rail towards Korth, the capital of Karrnath. Needless to say, his allies are a strange lot...

Aye, so we got on board the rail towards Korth. It's typically a 24 hour trip, all in all, but we ran into the usual problem--lightning storms. Right across th' border between Aundair and Karrnath, there's a big pile of storms that just sit there. So, we had to wait for the lightnin' to die down so we could slip through.

While we were there, the stewards broke out the wine, and gave us the first class treatment. Aye, while Lil and Johnny started in on the wine, Khin, Sparkles, and I broke in on the Broken Temples. I can't say much fer their mixin' ability, but a drink's a drink.

One problem, though--some ol' wench passed out while drinkin' the wine, and so did Johnny. Needless to say, after hearin' about the sleeping drug that the Inspired have been slippin' into drinks, I was a bit concerned. Jackie immediately skitter'd off to investigate...or drink more, I wasn't sure.

At any rate, right while Johnny (freshly revived thanks to some anti-toxin I had on me) started talkin' religion with Khin, myself, and Sparkles, Jackie crashed into the winery and shattered most o' the bottles. Damned fine waste of wine, if you ask me. The waiters were pissed off, but that's their problem.

I tried helpin' Jackie up, but he kept brushin' me off. Damned fool.

Lil, who apparently went with the ol' woman when she passed out, came back three sheets to the wind, ravin' about some out-of-body experiences that the woman'd been havin'. I'd have wrote it off, had Johnny not claimed the same thing once she mentioned it.

From there, things got a bit weird. Jackie locked himself in the bathroom with three o' the waiters, doin' gods-know-what to 'em in there. All I know is that "a man" needs to be a little more subtle with his advances.
He called in Johnny at one point, which got me a little confused, but the gnome mighta said it best--"butt sex." What they do is their business, but hey....I'm not interested.

In the meanwhile, Lil and I put on quite the duet of a great dwarven ballad: "Ale, Wenches, and Axes". Great rendition, and I sang like a rock bat. Also, we took some time to teach the gnome some more alphabet. At least he's up to E now.

Eventually, I did decide to investigate, only to see a grisly sight. Jacko'd offed two o' the buggers already, and was pryin' some answers out of the last one. All I could do was take a piss, grab a mop, and start cleanin' up the mess.

Turns out that the Inspired have been all over the lightning rails, handin' out their pretty poisons. However, there were two more still flittin' about, and I wasn't about to leave Jacko to his own devices. That is, as long as he kept his devices in his pants.

After comin' out and explainin' the situation to the rest of the group, Jackie told us about the last two. I joined him, like I said, along with Johnny, while all the gnome could ask was "How was the butt sex?" Damned if I couldn't breathe from laughing for the next 10 minutes. Crazy illiterate bastard. Crazier sex-addled berk.

Johnny, Jackie and myself took care of the last two. One of 'em managed a cheap shot on Jackie, using a shard o' crystal, but I lit it up with good ol' Kelgore's Fire Bolt, and sent it back into his buddy's chest. No more Inspired on that train!

We managed to hide the bodies and our evidence well enough that they weren't a problem for us anymore. The next day, we pulled into Korth, happier and well-rested.

Khin and I immediately headed for the nearest military office, where our contact ended up: some bee-eatin' Sergeant Toric Dunderline. That damned bastard wasn't keepin' the right records on his imported least, that's what I told him. Damned fool believed me, too...he sent us in the right direction of our missin' professor: the Red Steed Inn.

At the Red Steed, Khin and I pulled rank again, claimin' to be arresting the good Professor and his kidnapper. We ended up settin' up an ambush for the buggers, as they weren't there. However, their room was on the second floor, which made some problems for me.

So, while Lil and Khin stood guard, Sparkles and I grabbed me shovels and headed outside with one o' the professor's empty footlockers. We filled 'er up with good loose earth and pulled it back, just inside o' the door.

Eventually, the kidnapper made his way upstairs, leavin' the prof to the tender mercies of Lil and Khin. As soon as that door opened, I pulled an Earthen Grasp out and kept him still while Jackie-o knocked him on the noggin.

Turns out that the professor, while kidnapped at first....sort of, wanted to be kidnapped. The kidnapper was takin' him to some place called Adar, where the prof would be safe to continue his work. Crotchety old bastard was pissed at us for even looking at his plans, but he lived, once we cut him a deal.

Basic thing is this--after headin' to Adar for a tick, we're gonna head to Xendrik, deep in the south. Anythin' we find there is ours--he pays for our travel and all our expenses. Only thing we gotta worry about is findin' him some Dragonshards. Easier said than done, but when ye have a great prospector like myself on yer side, shards are easy ta find! Them Thrashshk half-orc claim jumpers won't know what hit 'em!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Chronicles from Eberron--The Tale of Harrigan the Horrible (Chapter 1)

This tale arrived from one of my fellow magi from the continent of Khorvaire. While it is difficult to tell whether the strange dwarven sorcerer Harrigan and his company truly existed, but at the very least, the story makes for an interesting tale.

From what I can gather, Harrigan Grimgem was a rare dwarven sorcerer that grew up in the city of Rekkenmark in Karrnath. Harrigan served for 15 years in the Karrnathi army at Fort Bones, where he was granted the rank of Bone Sergeant and War Wizard. From there, he traveled west, arriving at Fairhaaven for reasons known only to him.--PW.

Aye, laddies, this may be the beginnin' of somethin' big. I was sittin' around the Fairhaaven library, like I have been the last 6 months, when I get a message from some chickie-poo named Dhalia. I dinna know many of the professors around this bloody place, so I's unfamiliar with her name. She was offerin' 1k of gil and a free round-trip for a service...and I was short on cash and was itchin' to get out of the damned place.

There, I met up with the frightful crew that'd change me life for the rest of me days. The first was another Karrnathi fella named Khin. He served a bit further east of me, guarding trade routes during the Last War. Also with the chick were a gnome and a shifter teenager. What the two of them had to do together, the Forger only knows. I later found their names as Sparkles and Lillis. Two humans were there, too--some dance professor named Jacquin, and some creepy fella named Johnathan Davis. Davis kept ravin' about some Saviour and Lord, but I didna' pay him much heed. I never had much to do wit' the gods and they never had much to do wit' me.

Dhalia was apparently an assistant or such, but her professor, some Marvin Turning, went missing. Apparently some armored fella and an ugly chick busted through the window of his lab, grabbed the professor, and hightailed it out before she got more than a glimpse.

To be frank, I's a little suspicious of chickie-poo at the start. Things just didn't seem to add up. Jackie found a journal of the professor's, implyin' that Dhalia'd been poisoning him with sleeping toxin for at least two months. But, that'd weren't the crime we were really lookin' into, so I filed it in the back of my mind and let it go.

We did some investigatin' there, but didna' find much else, aside from a big print where, apparently, the armored fella hit the ground. Since he survived, I guessed he was probably a warforged or such. No human in armor woulda survived the fall from the professor's lab, so...we had at least somethin' to go on.

We decided to split up at that point, with Jackie, Lillis and John headin' towards the professor's house and meself, Sparkles, and Khin headin' off towards a seedier part o' town. Seems like everytime a mystery raises its head, the best way to solve is to go have a drink.

There weren't exactly a lot o' warforged in Fairhaaven, so when we stepped into the Half-Full Flagon, we immediately had an idea of a suspect. After a few Broken Temples, and a nice tip for the barkeep, we even had a name--Cog. Cog had a partner named Dox, who was supposedly ugly enough to tip a Kundarak scale, and they had a penchant for doin' "freelance" work.

Khin, who's apparently smarter'n I gave him credit for, came up with a plan. The idea'd be for us to pretend to want to kidnap Dhalia to ransom her to the professor. If the two showed their hand about the professor bein' missing, they'd be revealed and we could take care o' business. A meeting was set up for us in an upper room for 4 hours later, which gave us just enough time to catch the others.

We arrived over at Turning's place as Jackie and comp'ny were finishing up having a look-see. Only problem is that no sooner'd we start wrappin' things up over there, but three punks in black cloaks burst in. Immediately, I cast my Fist o' Stone and got ready behind the gnome. Yeah, I said behind the gnome. The bugger's name might be Sparkles and he might have the attention span of a marshfly, but the bugger carries a sword bigger'n that o' most humans and is built like a screamin' ball of rage.

Jackie got injured real quick out o' the bat, but managed to slice into one of the buggers with his saber right quick. Khin was lookin' around upstairs, but charged townstairs with a sword and mace drawn. John Davis screamed somethin' about heathen-smiting and put his club through one of the cloaked-fella's heads. The third got a flaming chunk o' rock through his chest, courtesy of me.

The one fightin' Jackie and Lillis weren't dead yet, so he tried runnin' off. However, I called up an Earthen Grasp and held him still while we got some info out o' him, thanks to Johnny's 'interrogation' techniques. He wasn't sayin' too much, though, and we offed the bugger.

The only real identifyin' feature about the three guys, aside from the cloaks, was the fact that they was wielding real, true-to-life, Riedran Crysteel longswords. But, we didna' have much time to think about that at the time...we were about to be late to our meetin'.

We arrived back at the Half-Filled Flagon just in time to get some info out of Cog and Dox. The two of 'em, yeah, kidnapped the Professor. Only thing was, they were doin' it to keep him from gettin' assassinated. The three guys we offed with the Crysteel swords were agents o' something called the Dreaming Dark or the Inspired, and were planning on givin' old Marvin a long dirt nap.

Cog and Dox set Professor up with a friend o' theirs and put him on the lightnin' rail headin' east. Protection or no, we needed to get the man back, so we set out after....but not before Khin and I sent a message on ahead. In order to get through Karrnath, the lightnin' rail'd go right past Fort Bones......and they need to be inspected.

So, here I am, on my way through my ol' stompin' grounds. Had to take a bath to get on the lightnin' rail, but I'm sure I'll work up a good bit o' dirt once I get back to prospectin'. Hopefully this whole shenanigan will be over soon, so I can get back to what I least the company's not too bad so far.

Welcome to my library--(Test Post)

Welcome, friends, to my library. Here, in this strange, electronic universe, will you be able to peruse my stacks. Within, you will find ideas of my own, as well as the tales of great heroes of ages long past. Hopefully, you will find something that piques your interest.

Know that all that is published here is my own, unless otherwise stated. It is made available for your use--feel free to take it for your own usage.